Thursday, August 27, 2009

My fun new kitchen toys...

Amidst the craziness of this summer, I have acquired 3 new kitchen tools that I wonder how I ever lived without?

It all began when I found this nifty tool at the hardware store (yes, that is the 2nd most valuable store in small-town Alaska...after the grocery store).

An avocado slicer!

I managed to get 6 edible avacados ordered in from Costco (well, not edible to me--but Maiya loved them). It really slices avacados this perfectly! Of course, I won't be using it in Skagway (which is funny that I found it here), but I look forward to taking it south to Mexico!

Next, I ordered this breadmaker from Amazon with free shipping (even to Alaska), and it is a POWER HOUSE! I have been baking a fresh load of bread every 2 days for the last 3 months, and every loaf is perfect! No more buying $5 loafs of bread from the grocery store! We get real whole wheat bread without the preservatives and sugar!

And last, but not least...

Have you ever heard of a Vita-Mix?

We only heard about them last month, when a friend was telling us how amazing they are. They are TURBO POWER blenders that can absolutely pulverize anything (including an avocado pit, if you so desire). They can cook soups (yes, IN the machine), you can make your own soy milk, fresh peanut butter, and when you're done--they even clean themselves!

My employee, Bev, also started drooling over the blender, and asked if I was going to get one. With a price tag of $400 plus (at best), I said there was no way I could!

Well, low and behold, Bev and her husband, Charlie, gifted us a VITA MIX a few weeks later!! Can you BELIEVE THAT?!!! She got herself one, as well, and we have both been having fun blending away! I can make soups SO fast, now (try 10 minutes for potato soup), and I have used it to make SO many healthy meals in the past two weeks! I am in HEAVEN!!
How did I EVER live without these things?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Truth

The whole truth, and nothing but the truth...

So, we've decided to close our doors because it has proven to not be financially viable, particularly in the upcoming downturn of Alaska Cruise tourism that is headed our way next year (and perhaps beyond). In addition, it is a ton of work for little or no (financial) reward. Granted, it has had it's reward...we have obtained amazing on-the-job business training and experience, and we have watched ourselves grow and learn in the process.
To think we started like this:

And ended more like this!
It is a really neat experience to grow a business, and learn so many new things.

Our summer workdays are certainly more than a normal workload should be. While most people work 9-5 jobs year-round with a few weeks vacation, we put in approximately the same hours, but squeeze them into 6 months, instead. Not to mention the additional work required the remainder of the year (accounting, orders, etc). It doesn't allow for a very good family life in the summers, and without extra time off, we haven't been able to truly enjoy Alaska in years!!

So, you're wondering what the new plan is?

If we are blessed enough to sell off our business displays, all of our product, an extra car, and TWO TRAILERS (including our beautiful new home!), then we will head out of Alaska with our van, cargo trailer, and just what we need to live comfortably.

We have agreed to be sales reps for the Wood Watch company line that we currently carry (see our website in Southeast Alaska, and the states of Montana, Utah, and Hawaii. This means that we must travel to all of these areas and find stores like ours that might be able to successfully display and sell these wood watches. They are the best sellers in our store, so we are very confident of the product line, and the comission is very promising.

We plan to travel to all of these states by mid November, and then we will drive East to Atlanta. My sister, Lara, lives just south of there in Peach Tree City, and has generously extended us an invitation to stay with her for an undetermined amount of time. When we have all of our ducks in a row, we have the end goal of living in Mexico in our sweet town that we found. We will likely have to come to the states for 6-8 weeks each year to check on wood watch accounts, and also hopefully start a wholesale business with some products we have found in Mexico that look promising. The trick is learning enough Spanish so that we can track down the sources, and communicate our needs well enough!

So, that's us in a nut shell. Your prayers would be much appreciated, because this month will be very overwhelming. But there is something very refreshing about knowing that this is the last month of working ourselves to death!

Alas, there is a time and season for all things, and we are now excited about the unavoidable change of scene. An ad popped up on the Facebook last week, and struck me. It said:
"Because change drives opportunity."

Wow. Perfectly put!

Friday, August 21, 2009

We're Closing


Yup, you read that right.

Enough is enough...and we are closing our business' doors at the end of the season, perhaps never to return to Alaska.

Whew. Now on to the task of selling off our lives here....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sharing Alaska with family...

Jared's parents, and Aunt & Uncle Pat & Mike (wonderful family who live in Germany!) came to visit last month! They drove up from Washington State...the grueling 3 days-each-way drive...and they survived!

We had fun showing them around Whitehorse, Dyea, and Skagway. We were able to enjoy some fun whale watching (see bottom left hand photo). I couldn't get a good photo of the whales spouting, but I got everyone's back end!

We had glorious weather for the majority of their trip, but one day we woke up to find that we were completely socked in with fog! We walked to Yakutania Point and watched the cruise ships leave port in the evening.
I loved the dense fog over the water. We could even hear whales spouting (its uncommon in this area to see whales), but couldn't see them.
Jared's family got the full wildlife tour!
(Ella was very excited that we got to see this eagle POOP in the tree! What fun for a 4 year old!)

A young grizzly playing with the fish in Dyea... (we watched from the safely of our van)
Fireweed at the head of the Chilkoot Trail... (okay, so it's not wildlife)And since we had another set of hands with us, we got FAMILY PHOTOS!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Polish Pottery Website Comes to a Close

Yup, you read that right.
Say goodbye to the pottery on

It has been a roller coaster day. It all began when our Polish Pottery supplier contacted us around noon, and told us that she was closing her business the next day (Friday), and that she could not accept any orders after today. It came as a complete surprise to us.

SO...for those who do not's the history...

When we opened our business in 2005, and we were primarily a Polish Pottery store. We had a Polish Pottery website, and gained a following for collecting the Polish Pottery. Next, we moved our physical location to the main shopping street in Skagway, and we learned fast that we needed more product selection than just Polish Pottery, in order to pay the bills. Therefore, our business grew, and our in-store Polish Pottery collection shrank to a small 8 square feet of our nearly 700 square foot store.

However, since we already had a following on our website, we kept our website as a Polish Pottery website. Our supplier on the East Coast actually drop-shipped all of the pottery ordered on our website, so that our customers could order year-round (whether we had the pottery in stock at our store or not).

We have very little pottery in our store nowadays, but we have had an excellent pottery selection on our website, with some dedicated customers. So, essentially, in one afternoon, this news has resulted in the need for us to practically shut down the website. We will no longer be able to sell Polish Pottery on it (like the old days).

The good side is that it allows us the opportunity to now change the website to reflect our actual store offerings better (for tourists coming to Alaska).

Besides being a bit disappointed about the sudden change in our business practices, we felt bad that we have customers who rely on us to build their pottery collections. We didn't want to leave everyone high and dry without warning, so we emailed about 600 or so of our past Polish Pottery customers, inviting them to enjoy one last little round on our website at a good discount. In response, we got about 20 orders--which makes for a busy day (on top of the typical 130+ sales we ring up in the store each weekday). Wow! We should "go out of business" more often!! :-)

And that was my day, in a nut shell. WOWEE....what a ride!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Temple Trip

Nope---not in Alaska (although that is in the works for NEXT summer, we hope)!

It has been bugging me that I have not gotten around to posting about our temple trip in Guadalajara last February, and so...well...better late than never.

It was a ward temple night, so we booked a babysitter, and we drove to Guadalajara (about 1 hour) with another couple from the ward. They were very sweet, and we enjoyed getting to know them better. It was entertaining to learn about their line of business in their semi-retired lifestyle. They now export tequila to the States. Hmm. To each his own. But I digress...

The Guadalajara Temple is beautiful, and located right downtown!

We did the session in Spanish, but all of the Gringos wore headphones to listen in English. It was very distracting for me to hear a combination of both languages (perhaps I should have turned my earphones up louder?)...but the spirit was strong, and it was very nice to attend the temple.

We will definitely have to make a better effort to attend the Guadalajara temple regularly in future years!

This is how she eats it...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

3 day weekend!

For the life of me, I can't get this photo to move to the bottom of the post. So here it is--A photo of Jared and me, undisturbed by clinging children:
So, we really did it! We took a 3 day weekend! We arranged for our employee, Bev, to watch our store on Friday (her typical day off), and arranged for another friend
to watch our store on Saturday, and we were OFF!! We spent the night in Whitehorse at a beautiful new Bed and Breakfast (and one of the most affordable, as well) called Versleuce. The place was fantastic, but the bed left my back out of whack for almost a week (until I relented-and asked Jared to pop it for me--wow--what a relief)!!

We did a bit of shopping, a lot of relaxing, and of course, we visited the Canada Games Center. Their pool is AWESOME!! Gotta love the large hot tub, lazy pool, big slide, and plenty of floating toys for kids to use:

Maiya loves going down this BIG slide on Jared's lap. That girl has no fear, I tell ya'!
I finally showed Jared where the church in Whitehorse is located, across the river. I haven't been there since 2002, when I attended a broadcast of the Nauvoo Temple Dedication (I believe that was the temple...). It is log-cabin style.
I particularly love the fact that every parking stall has a plug-in for those cold winter months. Wow...can their cars seriously not go 3 hours without needing to be plugged in?

The church has a nice view of the city of Whitehorse (capital of the Yukon). Here's the view up-river:
And down-river:
We even discovered some new walking trails by the Yukon River, and thoroughly enjoyed the day's beautiful weather.